More evidence that Haiti's cholera epidemic started with UN Peacekeepers

Haiti has been battling a massive cholera outbreak since, roughly, around the time international aid groups arrived in the country following the 2010 earthquake. Now, genetic evidence links the strain of cholera in Haiti to a rare strain native to Nepal — further proof that it was Nepalese UN Peacekeepers who brought cholera to Haiti. This news comes two months after the UN claimed immunity from any financial liability relating to the outbreak, writes Stacey Singer at the Palm Beach Post.


  1. “SECTION 14. Privileges and immunities are accorded to the representa 
    tives of Members not for the personal benefit of the irdividuals themselves, 
    but in order to safeguard the independent exercise of their functions in 
    connection with the United Nations. Consequently a Member not only 
    has the right but is under a duty to waive the immunity of its representative 
    in any case where in the opinion of the Member the immunity would impede 
    the course of justice, and it can be waived without prejudice to the purpose 
    for which the immunity is accorded.”

    “SECTION 29. The United Nations shall make provisions for appropriate 
    modes of settlement of:
    (a) Disputes arising out of contracts or other disputes of a private 
    law character to which the United Nations is a party;
    (ft) Disputes involving any official of the United Nations who by 
    reason of his official position enjoys immunity, if immunity has not 
    been waived by the Secretary-General.”

    Yeah, I’m totally convinced that the document the UN is pointing to constitutes authorization to shit on the poor with impunity. Nice try, though.

  2. Hey! I went to high school with Stacey! But besides that bit of random trivia, her writeup is pretty good — and includes a link to the (open access) mBio paper, which is always a good thing in scientific journalism. And as a microbial genomicist, I have to say the paper looks pretty sound.

  3. I had always thought of the UN as a toothless wonder, like a global complaint line that doesn’t really connect with anything real. It’s a peculiar sort of relief to discover that they, too, are capable of making things worse.

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